Nick Hakim: WILL THIS MAKE ME GOOD (ATO) Review | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, October 27th, 2021  

WILL THIS MAKE ME GOOD

ATO

Jun 10, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


There is a lot to be worried about right now. And Nick Hakim is feeling everything all at once. Cities are on fire, black people are being disproportionately killed, and everyone is overmedicated. On top of all that, it’s impossibly hard to understand what your neighbors, friends, and even you, yourself, are actually going through. But, penetrating these emotions are exactly what Hakim has set out to do on his latest album WILL THIS MAKE ME GOOD.

Over the past few years, Hakim has reluctantly consumed these heavy helpings of concerns. It’s a platter of hope doused in confusion, then marinated in self-pity and topped with a sprinkle of frustration. He wrestled with a question he asked himself when he was younger to try to parse together some semblance of a resolution: Will this make me good? There is really no true answer, of course, and this album is an exemplar of this unanswerable hypothetical.

Hakim’s debut, 2017’s Green Twins, was a streamlined romance album with pillowy vocals and relaxed beats that would easily please the likes of a group of stoners. Comparatively, WILL THIS MAKE ME GOOD is sonically groggy, sure. But Hakim is unearthing something here, and he’s pulling out the weeds while he does it. There is a root that he’s searching for. It might not be evident at first listen as you have to dig through the seemingly clusterfuck of bongo solos, melismatic lo-fi beats, and braising drums. But at its core, WILL THIS MAKE ME GOOD is absolutely blooming.

The album kicks off with the doom-ridden “ALL THESE CHANGES.” Mother Earth is angry, Hakim warns over dramatic strings, and a soft, looping riff. It’s a gentle breeze; a literal calm before the storm as Hakim’s delicate falsetto predicts “pretty soon we’ll be underwater.” As the song trails off, his voice follows and echoes his worries into a void. The track then seamlessly dribbles into the title-track, “WTMMG.” With rapid plucking and a swaggered rhythm, Hakim’s fuzzy vocals question who holds the reins of control as he recalls when he was first prescribed medication. “Will this shit make me good,” he hazily repeats.

Many of the tracks on WILL THIS MAKE ME GOOD are like the previous two: dynamic, nuanced, and just generally jam packed with a whole lot. Hakim has never admitted to belonging to one genre. Most of the time, these experimental risks pay off. On “QADIR”—a song Hakim wrote for a childhood friend of the same name who recently passed away—bongos answer the chilled drums that help carry his soulful melancholy. “As a whole/And we’re sinking/Down a hole/Without thinking/About our loved ones.” A flute and choir occasionally peek through the swirl of sound, effortlessly marrying together Hakim’s aura of grief with the distressing, but poignant cacophony. Will this loss teach him to be “good,” Hakim wonders, or was it simply all in vain?

Unlike “QADIR,” Hakim’s ambitions fall short on “DRUM THING.” Hakim’s delicious timbre gets lost within an out of tune piano and an ascending synth. But, these misfires are few and far between compared to the scathing bullseyes. Stand-out track “CRUMPY’s” tight production—it even has a lovely Mac DeMarco guitar feature—finds Hakim in his sweet spot. With glorious harmonies and a cool groove, Hakim is more meditative than anxious. “This town/Has really started to grow on me/My face/Has become one with the concrete” the singer confesses. It is interesting, though, that the more tranquil songs are the clearest. Whereas politically poignant tracks like “VINCENT TYLER,” which was inspired by the 2007 killing of a man of the same name in Hakim’s hometown of Washington D.C., are more lawless and distorted. Perhaps this was deliberate. Or, it’s simply a coincidental metaphor which eerily mimics a tumultuous period in time.

Even Hakim knows WILL THIS MAKE ME GOOD is “messy.” In a press release, he admitted he himself is “still trying to figure this record out.” But, instead of offering an answer to all of his queries, he conducts a gorgeously terrifying soundtrack that seems to say look what’s happening. Will these cheeky bongos make the world good? How about this vibey beat? Maybe this acoustic melody? It’s an attempt, to say the least, to find the kindling of the current garbage fire. And it’s a pretty decent one at that. (www.nickhakim.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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